Android video production can get you some great looking video if you follow these few simple tips. Whether you are an aspiring cinematographer, vlogging on the go, or livestreaming directly to YouTube, Facebook, Twitch, etc., sometimes there’s no fixing it in post, so let’s make sure you’ve got everything figured out before you go live.
The first thing you’ll want to upgrade is the steadiness of your shot. Grab a simple, lightweight tripod with a smartphone clip. This tripod comes with a carrying case and extends as high as 50 inches with the ability to pan and tilt and it even has a built-in balance. This smartphone clip extends to fit almost any size phone, but be careful not to catch any volume or power buttons when you place your smartphone in the clip or your phone may seem like its taken on a mind of its own. Both are available on Amazon for around $15 and $5 USD, respectively.
Optical Image stabilization
Now if you want to move around while you are recording, but still want the look of a steady shot, some Android phones come with decent image stabilization. OIS, or optical image stabilization, tries to fix movement blur in real time by varying the optical path to the sensor. Digital image stabilization adjusts the image from frame to frame in an attempt to counteract the motion. Both solutions are hit or miss. You may see some warping or otherwise unrealistic looking footage and it also cuts down on how much you can capture in the shot.
If you don’t want to rely on built-in image stabilization, but are hell-bent on getting professional-looking smooth shots you can use motorized stabilizers for digital phones but they are expensive. There are also less expensive, weighted phone steadycam rigs out there but they can be awkward to use and the footage is just okay. For the smoothest shot possible, we suggest the DJI Osmo Mobile gimbal. It makes walking shots easy and it has controls on the handle for pan and tilt. It comes with a stand and a recording app that will let you follow a subject as well.
Determine how much you want to see in the camera’s frame. At arm’s length, it might be hard to capture everything you want your audience to see, or you may accidentally move yourself out of frame and cut off half your face. One solution is the wide-angle shot. Some Android phones have a built-in wide-angle mode – the LGV20 & V30 do this incredibly well and I wish every phone manufacturer would make this a priority because it makes filming so much easier. The front facing camera lets you see what you are shooting! There are also clip on lenses available for smartphones for wide-angle and macro shots. Now, these vary greatly in price and quality, so do your research before buying. The Bito set we showed in the video includes multiple lenses, a clip that’s compatible with multiple phones, a lens carrying case, remote shutter, and attachable light – all for about $25 USD.
Good lighting is hard to find and can really make your video look professional. Small, condensed clip on lights make the light comes from only one side only and can look very harsh. If you can use existing lighting, natural or otherwise, and position the light source behind your phone, that’s the best way to go. If the available lighting is not bright enough then clipping on ring lights might be your best bet. They are small and portable for easy, on-the-go shot and some even have different brightness and temperature settings to perfect the look.
Accessories can vary quite a bit in price point and design. The UBeesize kit gives you the widest variety of settings and comes with a simple mount for your phone, but can be a lot to carry around since it needs to be plugged in to a USB source. The clip-on ring light is easier to carry, but offers fewer color options and is powered via rechargeable battery, so make sure you have enough juice to get through your shoot. Both options cost under $20 USD.
In the next video we will talk about how to record quality audio, the phone’s power source, and recording media.